A Recovery Blog

This blog is about my continuing recovery from severe mental illness. I celebrate this recovery by continuing to write, by sharing my music and artwork and by exploring Buddhist ideas and concepts. I claim that the yin/yang symbol is representative of all of us because I have found that even in the midst of acute psychosis there is still sense, method and even a kind of balance. We are more resilient than we think. We can cross beyond the edge of the sane world and return to tell the tale. A deeper kind of balance takes hold when we get honest, when we reach out for help, when we tell our stories.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Fainting, Politics and Painting

This is a photograph of my ying and yang poster that I have in my living room with early morning shadows framing it. I keep it as a subliminal reminder that there are greater forces at work even in my life.

I want to write a blog entry, but I'm having trouble deciding what to write about. I'm somewhat envious of those bloggers who actually post once a day. I haven't been able to do it. How do you sum up a day in a couple of paragraphs? I keep feeling like I should have something important to say, but most of my life is quiet.

Yesterday I brought my brother to the hospital to get some blood taken for tests. He sees his doctor next week to monitor his diabetes. I waited for him in the car thinking it would take no more than half an hour. An hour went by and I got restless, so I went into the hospital to check on him. A nurse took me aside and said that my brother had fainted after his blood was drawn. She took me to his room. It was a small room, brightly lit, with a bed in the center. On that bed was my brother in a hospital gown talking with some friendly animation about English soccer to his doctor who was standing by the bed. As the doctor began talking I noticed he had an English accent. I could see that he was torn between giving medical advice and talking soccer. This reassured me that my brother's condition wasn't serious.

Soon after that he was discharged with the strong recommendation that he take it easy for the rest of the day. I drove him home and then went and got us lunch to eat at his house. I worried a little about him fainting again and what would he do if he fainted when he was alone. I've had similar worries about myself getting incapacitated when alone at night. Not that I think I'm particularly likely to. Mostly I felt detached, not wanting to engage in worrying, but the truth is my brother and I are getting older and we are no longer feeling the invulnerability of youth.

I feel protective of my brother, especially since he doesn't drive. I also just love him. He has his share of character defects, just as I do, but he's smart, honest and funny. He talks straight and he doesn't try to be anything but himself. He's the person I'm closest to in the whole world. I don't want anything bad to happen to him and I want to be there if he needs me. My family is so small, just my mother and father and uncle and my brother and me. That's it. If Rob and I are fortunate enough to live to an older age, I know we will be involved in each other's lives. We might have to live together. I'm hoping we move within ten years to a small city with adequate transportation and medical services and some culture. We shall have to see in which direction the country's economy turns in the next few years.

Speaking of the economy, wow, are we in trouble. I am an absolute boob when it comes to the economy, but I know that the whole world is struggling with this right now. I'm praying those in charge will make wise decisions and pull us through this. Being a Democrat I'm also praying that Obama wins the election in November. I don't trust McCain to be wise and I certainly don't trust Palin to possibly assume the office of the President of this country, let alone be the Vice President. My feeling is that the Republicans had their turn for two terms and now it is time for a change with new and different leadership. Whoever wins will have a tough job ahead of them trying to repair the mess of the previous administration. I hope the young people come out in droves and vote for the Democratic ticket. It's their future that's at stake and they should participate. I'm just amazed at the number of people who don't vote. There are countries aching to be democratic and some of the people who live in the US take the democratic process for granted. This election may be different. The internet has changed the game and made participation more natural. I wonder, if at some point any one of us could vote from a personal computer, would more people do it? My brother is registering voters today, the last day to do it, at least in New York.

Otherwise, I've been painting. I've done a series from Jock Sturges' photographs in watercolor and am struggling with one in acrylic. I don't know, is it okay to base my paintings on the works of another artist? I remember asking my teacher this when I was painting my Bluegirl painting and he said why not? I feel like I'm taking something that's not mine, when what I'm doing is more like transforming or translating something from one medium to another. Really, I'd rather work with color photographs. It's quite hard to make up color combinations than to follow them. Following the color of a person's body or of an object is an art form in itself unless you are painting colors expressionistically and intuitively (which can be a lot of fun). I'm sorely tempted to buy a book of Sturges' color photographs. Then again, working from a black and white photograph forces me to think about color. In the watercolor paintings I tried to be more naturalistic, but in the acrylic painting I am painting skin tones in blues as I did before, kind of following the Bluegirl painting.

The fun thing about painting in acrylic, as opposed to watercolor, is I get to exaggerate the forms and then go back over them and refine them. I started this recent painting by laying out the composition in ultramarine blue, which is a relatively dark blue. In the beginning outlining is fine because the paint being opaque means you can paint over or close to the outline in lighter shades of color. This allows for lots of layering possibilities. I feel a sense of power when I go over certain areas and remodel. Or change an entire color scheme. It took me a while to learn that lesson: that you don't have to keep what you initially start out with, that you can rework it like a sculptor with moist clay. That's not as true, I'm finding, with watercolor which requires more delicacy and precision. Truth is, I like both mediums for different reasons. I let go with acrylics and rein in with watercolor, so there's a kind of a push me, pull me thing going on when I work back and forth between them.
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